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Is DEADPOOL 2’s Julian Dennison Playing This Deep Cut X-MEN Character?

Is DEADPOOL 2’s Julian Dennison Playing This Deep Cut X-MEN Character?

After watching the new Deadpool 2 teaser trailer, we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s breakout star Julian Dennison might be introducing another obscure X-Men character to the Deadpool canon. We know the series enjoys reimagining some of the more esoteric characters from X-Men history, like Brianna Hildebrand’s fantastic performance of Negasonic Teenage Warhead—a character who made only a brief appearance in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. So could they be attempting to reignite that same magic by bringing a forgotten Chris Claremont character into the Deadpool universe? And is that character Neal Shaara A.K.A. Thunderbird (III)?

Who is Neal Shaara?

Introduced in (adjectiveless) X-Men v2 #100, Neal Shaara was the third character to take on the mantle of Thunderbird, making him one of Marvel’s many legacy heroes. Though his name is the same as the Thunderbirds who came before him, he occupies a strange space in comics canon as his powerset and background are completely different to the mutants who previously held the title. The first Indian member of the X-Men, Neal was one of Claremont’s many attempts to diversify the world of the X-Men. A devout vegan, the powerful pyrokinetic was originally meant to be named Agni after the Hindu god of fire. But his flame burned out after around 30 appearances in various early ’00s X-titles.

Why we think Neal might be the perfect fit for Deadpool 2

We all know Fox is addicted to fitting in as many X-characters as possible to retain their rights to Marvel’s vast X-canon, from sliding in visual gags referencing unnamed mutants to X-Men: The Last Stand‘s collection of confusing cameos (we see you, Psylocke). Learning from the mistakes of X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox streamlined this mentality with Deadpool, picking one of the most underutilized characters from their popular X-Men franchise in Colossus and teaming him with a “brand new” interpretation in Negasonic (a Boom Boom by any other name smells as sweet). The massive success of the Merc With a Mouth’s first movie means the creative team will likely be looking to repeat this formula.

Julian Dennison’s killer comedic turn in Hunt for the Wilderpeople makes him a prime candidate to create his own interpretation of a lesser known X-character. Though in the comics Neal is Indian, it wouldn’t surprise us if Reynolds and company were happy to adapt this character’s background to make him more suited to their incarnation of the young firebrand—like, say, a young Māori boy. After all, Polynesians certainly have a long history of fire dancing embedded in their culture.

In comics canon, Neal is only one of a few pyrokinetics not engulfed in flames who also shows his face while in action, just like Dennison in the freshly released teaser. He’s also a character with so little backstory that he’s ripe for a reimagining, meaning that Dennison’s performance could quickly become the definitive version of the hero. Another interesting thing to consider is that Fox has yet to use the Thunderbird name in any of the X-movies even though the mantle is one of the most well known in X-lore. This would be an inventive way of including Thunderbird in the movies without stepping on the toes of their Thunderbird (I), who’s currently in the X-TVerse show, The Gifted (gotta love that Fox continuity).

There’s always a chance Dennison could be one of these other mutant pyrokinetics: Rusty Collins A.K.A. Firefist, Match, or even Magneto’s old buddy and original X-Men franchise star, Pyro! What do you think of our fantastical fan theory? Let us know in the comments!

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Images: Fox, Marvel, Piki Films

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